Bill to form Sago and Nipah Development Board passed

Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom
16/02/2022 02:39 PM

KUCHING, Feb 16  -- Sarawak is on track to regulate its sago and nipah industries with the passing of the Sago and Nipah Development Board (SNDB) Bill 2022 by the State Legislative Assembly today.

Sarawak Minister of Agriculture Modernisation and Regional Development Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said, once formed, the board would assist the state government in planning the future viability and sustainability of the industries in the state. 

“The implementation of all government initiatives and development programmes will be more focused, effective and efficient,” he said when tabling the bill.

Dr Rundi said Sarawak is among the world’s largest exporters of sago flour with 37,884 tonnes of sago starch valued at RM78.29 million in 2020, while RM1.93 million worth of Gula Apong, one of Nipah products, was exported last year with another RM3.38 million gained from local sales.

“One important aspect of this legislation is the central role of SNDB, as a stewardship of the industries, to assist the government in its planning to ensure the future viability and sustainability of the sago and nipah industries in the state,” he said.

Dr Rundi said the interests of all communities in Sarawak would be taken into account in the process of legislating the SNDB to gain benefits from its formation and to align its objective with the state’s move towards a high-income economy.

He said the SNDB could lift away the burden carried by other agricultural authorities which also need to look into the development of other crops and since commercialised plantation was required to boost the industry, the private sector involvement was inevitable.

On the issue of native customary rights (NCR) lands that could be used by the board for the commodities development raised by Baru Bian (PSB-Ba’kelalan) during the debate, Dr Rundi said the state government would continue to engage with the landowners as practised in the past.

“It (NCR lands) has been a problem that we had been facing when we want to develop oil palm plantations and so on, but for this (sago and nipah plantations) we are taking a different approach because it involved different areas, mostly coastal areas,” he added.